Rewriting immigration law won’t be any easier in 2016 or 2018, so the GOP should take the plunge now, according to the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“There will never be a perfect time for reform,” Tom Donohue wrote in a Monday blog post, acknowledging opposition to industry’s high-immigration priorities.
“The political landscape isn’t going to be any more conducive to reform in two years or four years. … The fact remains that it is in our national interest to get it done,” he wrote.
Advocates for increased immigration say that a 2014 delay will push the issue into the 2016 presidential election, where it likely will face even greater political hurdles as both parties try to win more than 50 percent of the electorate.
GOP leaders seem to be backing away from Donohue’s goal. That’s partly because it is so unpopular, but also because the push could split the GOP and damage the party’s chances of winning the Senate in 2014 by enough seats to survive the expected Democratic Senate wins in 2016.
The leadership is also facing opposition from some GOP legislators who want the party to support a low-immigration, high-wage outreach to alienated and GOP-leaning voters. Many GOP legislators are reluctant to back the business agenda, which is support by progressives and wealthy voters.
President Barack Obama’s progressives and Donohue’s business executives have united behind bills that would double the annual intake of one million legal immigrants and roughly 650,000 guest workers.
Democratic and business advocacy pushed a rewrite bill through the Senate last June that would grant an amnesty to at least 10 million illegal immigrants.
Business leaders, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, have offered to fund campaign ads for politicians who up the current inflow of workers. Some GOP legislators, such as North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers, are cautiously promoting the immigration increase, but are facing local opposition.